By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan
Who is obliged to perform Hajj?
The main purpose of Hajj and `Umrah is to worship Allah in the places he commanded us to worship Him therein. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
“Pebble throwing and performing sa`i saying (i.e. going between As-Safa and Al-Marwah) are made (decreed) for mentioning Allah.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)
Hajj (Pilgrimage) is uniformly agreed upon by Muslim scholars as an obligatory act of worship, and one of the pillars of Islam. It is prescribed for all Muslims; they are to perform Haj) once in their lifetime provided they can afford it. and it is a collective duty on all Muslims at a set time every year.
On the other hand, any performance of Hajj other than the obligatory one is considered a voluntary act of worship.
Concerning `Umrah, many scholars regard it as a religious duty, for when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked if women had to participate in jihad (fighting in the Cause of All ah), he replied:
“Yes, there is a jihad prescribed for them in which there is no fighting, namely Hajj and `Umrah.”
Accordingly, if `Umrah is authenticated to be a religious duty for women, then the more it is so for men. To illustrate, once a man said to the Prophet (peace be upon him), ‘My father is an old man who can neither perform Hajj nor `Umrah nor even travel.’ Upon that, the Prophet said le him:
“Perform Hajj and `Umrah on behalf of your father.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Once in a Lifetime
According to the above, it is obligatory for a Muslim to perform Hajj and `Umrah once in a lifetime; the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Perform Hajj only once, and whoever performs it more than that, it is a voluntary act for him.” (Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)
In Sahih Muslims (Muslim’s Authentic Book of Hadith), it is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace upon him) said:
“0 people! Allah has made Hajj obligatory for you, so perform Hajj.”
Upon that, a man asked, ‘(Is it to be performed) every year?’ The Prophet (peace upon him) answered, “If I were to say ‘Yes: it would become obligatory (for you to perform it every year) and you would not be able to do it.” (Muslim)
Who Is Obliged to Perform It?
A Muslim, male or female, must perform the obligatory Hajj as soon as one is able to, and whoever defers it without a legal excuse is deemed sinful, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Make haste to (perform the obligation of) Hajj, for the one of you does not know what might afflict him.” (Ahmad)
There are five conditions that must be fulfilled as prerequisites for performing Hajj: to be a Muslim, to be sane, to have reached puberty, to be free (not a slave), and to be able to perform it. Those who meet these prerequisites are obliged to perform Hajj immediately.
Would a Boy Perform Hajj?
Performing Hajj and `Umrah for a little boy is accepted as a supererogatory act of worship, as indicated in the l1adilh narrated by Ibn `Abbas:
“A woman lifted up a boy to (show him to) the Prophet and said, ‘Would this (child) be credited with performing Hajj? He (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Yes, and you will have a reward.” (Muslim)
Scholars uniformly agree that if a boy performs Hajj before reaching puberty, it is still obligatory for him to do it once again when he is an adult and has the ability to do it. That is to say, Hajj, which is performed in childhood, does not spare a person the obligatory Hajj when reaching puberty, and so is the case of `Umrah.
As for a child under the age of discretion, his guardian can assume ihram (a state of ritual consecration during Hajj or `Umrah) and declare the intention to perform Hajj on his behalf.
The guardian should stop the child from doing whatever acts which are forbidden during Hajj, and should perform tawaf (circumambulating the Ka`bah) and Sa`i (going between As-Safa and Al-Marwah) on behalf of the child while carrying him. The guardian is also to accompany the child to Mount `Arafah, Muzdalifah, and Mina, throwing the pebbles on his behalf.
The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.
Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.